A very popular genetic test for breast cancer may not perform well for Black women, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Genetic testing of breast tumors helps determine best therapy, with a 21 gene assay commonly used for this purpose. Now a new study shows its predictive value for Black women may be less than that for Caucasians. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Nelson: A score of 0 to 25 suggests that you will have a good outcome if you just take the hormonal treatment alone. Higher scores, so 26 to 100, you’re more likely to benefit from chemotherapy. Black women were more likely to have the higher recurrence risk score. The accuracy of predicting this was less for the African American women. African American women had a higher chance of dying of breast cancer in each group. It does look like this score appears to not perform as well for African Americans.  :32

Nelson says it’s likely the test should still be done but should be carefully interpreted for each patient. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.